On Suffering, God, & Chronic Illness//Laura Kate//CNU

Suffer: a verb meaning “to experience or be subjected to something bad or unpleasant”

Such a simple definition. The words my online dictionary used to describe suffering made it sound like a mosquito bite – annoying, itchy, and gone within a couple of days.

Upon further research (because I’m a former English major and words are a part of me forever now), I found the Latin origin of suffer: sufferre – to bear, undergo, endure, carry, or put under – from the prefix sub- (meaning ‘under’) and suffix –ferre (meaning ‘to carry’).

Dead languages aside, I think the Latin parts of suffer truly give us insight to what is going on with this word. To suffer, to carry something under great strain, to be burdened. It’s more complex than a bad day, and it’s certainly not much like our mosquito bite at all.

Before this year, I could have given you a fabulous textbook definition of suffering. Other than a really rough breakup junior year, however, I wouldn’t have been able to piece much together in the form of a personal example. This past winter altered that when my health suddenly evaporated – my immune system decided it was time to wage war against my digestive system and I was left with a very unhappy colon and a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease. My senior spring semester was filled with sleepless nights, diarrhea, constant vomiting, anemia, and more hospital visits and prescriptions than I ever thought possible for a college-aged, “normal” person.

Where is God and what is He doing? I thought (and still think) constantly. Doesn’t He see me suffering down here? Aren’t my prayers going through? Is this because I didn’t forward one of those chain emails nine years ago?

 Real, live suffering has a way of driving you to search for hope, and true hope can only be found in Jesus. One of my current favorite Scripture passages is Hebrews 4:14-16. Check it out:

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” NIV

I distinctly remember a Fall Retreat many moons ago (okay, like three) where the speaker reminded us that God cares and God can. That phrase has stuck with me ever since; God has compassion for me in my pain and has strength to carry me through it. Like the verses from Hebrews remind me, I don’t serve a God Who can’t relate to me. In fact, God experienced the depths of human suffering during His time on earth, both as a Son committed to dying for a purpose and as a Father watching His Son fulfill that purpose. I can take heart and push forward in faith, knowing my Jesus both understands my suffering and has overcome it.

So, here I am. And, there you are. In the midst of whatever hard, hard thing this season has brought, please know that God cares and God can. He sees the depths of our suffering, and He provides grace to bimg_7341ear up under the burden – whether it be a bug bite or an auto-immune disease!

 

Hi, friends! My name is Laura Kate, and I’m a super recent grad of CNU! I loved it so much, I decided to stay for another year…to snag a Master’s in teaching so I can plant myself in a local elementary school. I am very fond of cats and very not-fond of dogs, and I can quote (and act out) most of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Grad life is difficult, but God is providing a way through and paving it with episodes of The Office and third-grade jokes. If you or anyone you love is struggling with a chronic illness, please feel free to reach out to me! Community is a God-given resource.

Soul Rest//Steph

Some days I feel like I’m playing a game of “Are you smarter than a 2 year old?” And the 2 year old is winning.

After a long week battling it out over nap time I find myself tired, pregnant, emotional, and feeling a bit drained. Life doesn’t stop because my son isn’t napping. Let me back up and say when you are a mom, and you often work from home, and you need to nap yourself because your body is tired from growing another human… nap time is PRECIOUS. It’s everything. You hold on for dear life. So when my toddler climbed out of his crib for the first time the other day I thought to myself, “Oh no! Game changer. This is bad!” We were both so tired and we both shed lots of tears that day (and most days this week). I just lost control of 1:30-4:30 pm. In the big picture, it’s just nap time. But today? Today it doesn’t feel that way.
It’s 3:49 AM as I type this because I cannot sleep. I had this stressful dream that I was trying to keep a bat in the basement but it had other plans. The bat wanted to fly around catching creatures and I was determined to keep it contained downstairs. I woke up realizing Benaiah is the bat and he just does not want to stay in his crib. He wants to color and watch Daniel Tiger and organize his blocks. The connection in my dream was pretty obvious when I shut the basement door and the bat suddenly yelled, “I wanna snuggle mama!” Which is what Benaiah does when I try to put him down for a nap. He’s pretty smart for a 2 year old.. which is a big reason why I’m losing this game of “Are you smarter than a 2 year old?”
So I was trying to fall back asleep. Anxious. Irritated to lose even more sleep while he was peacefully lying in his crib storing up energy for our battle later this afternoon. And then Jesus.
ed80e7ca26e83058609ed391fce9c573
Jesus reminds me I don’t have to do it alone. When I’m drained he’s not surprised or disappointed that I can’t. He invites me to sit closer, He draws me closer. He says You can’t do it alone but you don’t have to. He offers me strength and rest.
At that point I started thinking about rice chex (I am pregnant after all). So when I can’t sleep I eventually get hungry and crave rice chex. I check my email over a bowl of cereal… Day 6 of 40 days of prayer and fasting for Cru staff (confession: I’m not fasting). I have a verse from Cru delivered to my inbox. I’ve read it 100 times before but tonight is different.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in hear
t, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 
Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)
My heart races.
Rest for your souls.
Rest for my soul.
 
And the tears fall. Jesus knows that’s what I need and He allowed it to reach my inbox at just the right time. It’s not just that my body is tired. My soul needs rest and the Bible tells us exactly where to get it. Jesus is the answer. He understands. He offers. He waits. He loves. He invites.
 
We can’t pour into others without resting in Jesus first. You might not be wrestling a toddler (yet) but you probably have a different “bat” in your life. Is there an area where you feel like you can’t keep up? You’re striving. You’re tired. You’re over it. You can’t win this battle on your own. Rest in Jesus. Tell Him. Tell Him when you doubt He’s even real and you’re not sure He still sees you. Tell Him what’s going on and ask for rest for your soul. It will come.
Because you are fully seen and you are fully loved.

NO IFS, ANDS, or BUTS//Victoria//CNU

Do you use “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” when praying? I do. I may not directly say it, but the underlying meaning is there.

If you can, please grant me ____”

If you could give me ___”

If you can help me overcome  ___”

Mark 9:14-29 is the story of how Jesus miraculously heals a boy that’s been possessed his entire life by an evil spirit. The spirit has thrown him into fire and water in attempts to destroy the boy’s body. The disciples were unable to heal him, so the father of the boy turned to Jesus, and asked:

  1. 22-23 “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us”

Jesus’ response was “ ‘If you can’. Everything is possible for one who believes.”

Jesus basically responded, as if to remind this boy’s father, “there is no if about my power or if concerning my willingness”. “If” implies doubt; which means lacking faith or not believing.

It’s not a question of God’s ability but a question of our belief.

Instead of ‘if you (God) can do anything’ it should be ‘everything is possible if you (we) believe’.

How can I have such small faith, when I know that He has the perfect track record?

Time and time again, we forget how faithful God has been and how attuned He is to our hearts. During trials, valleys, mountains, joys, pains, sorrows… just life, why do we forget?

We forget because we get distracted by minor things.

Oh but how quickly we can refocus, with a simple humble prayer.

  1. 24 “…Help me overcome my unbelief!”

The boy’s father spoke this prayer, asking Jesus to help him to have a stronger faith. Instantly, Jesus spoke, and the evil spirit shrieked and fled his presence.

God is able. He both can and will. How does this change our prayers? Or the way we view God?

Ephesians 3:20-21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that works in us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations,

forever and ever! Amen.

Read that again.

“…immeasurably more…” : Not just more, because that’s measurable. So much more that it’s off the charts! There’s no measurement. (my little brain doesn’t understand this, and that’s okay)

“…more than we ask or imagine…” : What He does will exceed what we imagine or hope. He will continually provide in more creative ways than we can imagine; after all, He is The Creator.

God will always be able. He will do immeasurably more than we could hope for, or what our brain is capable of understanding. He will exceed our imagination, and will likely answer prayers differently than we ask them.

God’s able.

No ‘ifs’, ‘ands’, or ‘buts’.

I still believe

You’re the same yesterday, today, and forever

I still believe

I still believe your blood is still sufficient for me

-Kim Walker-Smith, Still Believe

{great song, look it up}

thetaylorfamilysession-11

 

Hello! I hope this blog finds you doing well and enjoying the beginnings of Fall! My name is Victoria Taylor. I’m a senior at Christopher Newport University, and I plan to graduate in the spring. I patiently anticipate May, as I will graduate, celebrate my 22nd birthday, and become a Mrs. all in just 1 week! God has given me a passion for medicine and healthcare, so I’m currently applying to Occupational Therapy schools while planning our wedding. I am experiencing many new joys right now, but I am also praying and watching my trust in the Lord grow. Thank you for reading this! I hope it brings as much peace to you as it does me.